On July 27th, 2007, KTVA Channel 11 in Anchorage, Alaska aired a short and relatively unspecific story about the Anchorage School District's participation in a so-called "racism workshop". The story did not name the group conducting the workshop, and just barely touched on its purpose. It did identify a member of the Guilford County Board of Education (which encompasses greater Greensboro, NC), Deena Hayes (pictured at left), as one of the traveling workshop leaders. Hayes told KTVA "We were here in January. And we were in Anchorage, Fairbanks and Juneau. We do this all over the United States and other parts of the country, looking at disproportionality. We're working with major systems and institutions like social services, criminal justice, health care, nonprofits and education".
Of course, the word "disproportionality" is a red flag to those who oppose affirmative action or racial quotas. "Disproportionality" tends to be a buzzword used by people who consider diversity more important than competency. We've also seen that concern about "disproportionality" applies primarily to non-white groups in the United States; in contrast, when the percentage of whites within an organization is lower than the percentage in greater society, the concern seems to vanish. For example, no outrage is expressed over the fact that the National Basketball Association is 70% black.
So I "Googled" Deena Hayes, and found out that she is the source of some controversy within Greensboro, NC, having acquired a reputation for possible anti-white bigotry. On December 28th, 2006, the Rhinoceros Times website reported that during a school board meeting on December 19th, Hayes criticized the Greensboro School District's Very Special Needs (VSN) program, claiming that it does not help advance black children, but only promotes academics for white students. But Hayes did not stop there. She then played the "slavery" card by saying that she thought the program was promoting a superiority complex of "slaves and slave masters mingling" by having the VSN students with students who aren't exceptional or advanced learners.
And on March 18th, 2007, local resident Eric Huey, who was running for a seat on the Guilford County Board of Education (but not against Hayes), took Hayes to task for complaining about the makeup of the construction advisory committee being all white, while providing no evidence that the committee was deficient or unresponsive to its mandate in any way. According to Huey, Hayes sent out the following e-mail:
“I am absolutely opposed to the makeup of the construction advisory committee. We have three white school board members and one white county commissioner, all of the elected officials on the committee are WHITE! The school board representatives that are listed have not been MWBE friendly and frankly, one has been hostile to MWBE efforts. This is unacceptable to have the “good ole boy/girl” network represented and no one from the school system to represent the minority contractors that have been treated so terribly. I will not vote for this current committee and I do not trust the current makeup of this committee”.
The fact that the three white school board members serving on the committee were freely elected to their positions, presumably by a number of non-white voters, appears absolutely irrelevant to Hayes.
This is the type of individual who came to Anchorage to teach the Anchorage School District about "eliminating racism" - a race hustler with an apparent anti-white bias.
And although KTVA did not name the group conducting the workshop, a further Google search revealed that there was only one organized racial workshop group who had Anchorage on their itinerary for this time period - The People's Institute for Survival and Beyond. According to their website, their Community Organizing Workshops move beyond a focus on the symptoms of racism to an understanding of what it is, where it comes from, how it functions, why it persists and how it can be undone. The core of workshop’s systemic approach emphasizes learning from history, developing leadership, maintaining accountability to communities, creating networks, undoing internalized racial oppression and understanding the role of organizational gatekeeping as a mechanism for perpetuating racism.
The latter two issues are the most controversial. The People's Institute claims that "internalized racial oppression" manifests itself in two forms:
1). Internalized Racial Inferiority: The acceptance of and acting out of an inferior definition of self, given by the oppressor, is rooted in the historical designation of one’s race. Over many generations, this process of disempowerment and disenfrachisement expresses itself in self-defeating behaviors. [Ed. Note: While this may contribute somewhat to intergenerational poverty and disporportionate misbehavior within certain minority communities, there's an inherent danger of trying to apportion such disproportional blame on "racism"; it does not encourage acceptance of personal responsibility as a necessary first step.]
2). Internalized Racial Superiority: The acceptance of and acting out of an superior definition of self given is rooted in the historical designation of one’s race. Over many generations, this process of empowerment and access expresses itself as unearned privileges, access to institutional power and invisible advantages based upon race.
It is in the second manifestation that we see the old canards about "white privilege" and "invisible advantages" wriggling to the surface once again. Statutory white privilege was legislatively wiped out by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. And while perhaps the white elite enjoy some sort of "white privilege", the mainstream white community enjoys no such privilege. To characterize these advantages as "invisible" is not designed to promote healthy debate but instead to encourage abject compliance with the group's divisive agenda. Any opposition to the group's agenda can easily be deflected by claiming the dissident is a beneficiary of "invisible advantage" rather than to honestly address the dissident's points. In fairness, The People's Institute does briefly acknowledge that it is also possible for whites to be oppressed, but for the most, the underlying tone is that whites are "invisible oppressors".
While The People's Institute rejects the guerrilla tactics of other anti-racist organizations such as One People's Project and Citizens Against Hate, they tend to echo much of their rhetoric. The People's Institute fails to explain how waging an anti-racist campaign implicitly highlighting whites as oppressors is supposed to eliminate "racism". The Anchorage School District needs to factor this in when considering their recommended solutions. ASD has not issued a report on the workshop so far. I look forward to the possibility that it will be discussed at a future Anchorage School Board meeting.